EMAP slashes online investment by half

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EMAP, the international magazine publisher of titles ranging from Guns & Ammo to FHM, underlined the burst in the dotcom bubble yesterday by cutting its online investment plans by half, to about £120m.

EMAP, the international magazine publisher of titles ranging from Guns & Ammo to FHM, underlined the burst in the dot.com bubble yesterday by cutting its online investment plans by half, to about £120m.

Reporting flat interim pre-tax profits of £92m, Kevin Hand, EMAP's chief executive, said: "Market sentiment has changed and we've taken note of that." About £80m of the internet investment will target eight core online areas grouped around magazines such as Q, the contemporary music title, as well as other consumer titles and business publications such as Construction Plus.

The plan will see about £20m made available for developing digital content from the 500 other titles in the group, Britain's biggest publisher. A further £20m will be used as seed capital to fund new ventures.

EMAP Digital is expected to generate £100m in turnover by 2005 and break even in 2003. A 35 per cent return on capital is envisaged after five years.

Mr Hand said the new plans were more closely tied to EMAP's strongest business units, including automotive and lifestyle publishing. "When the model looks like something in your everyday business that's encouraging," he said.

However, Mr Hand remained optimistic about the development of online businesses. "It's a dynamic market in its infancy."

On the matter of an approach from Yahoo!, the internet giant, Mr Hand said: "There's no truth in it." He added: "There is no 'one size fits all' solution. We will partner."

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